The Music Man: I want to jam with my mom too

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It’s 9:50 p.m. on a Friday, and this is the earliest I’ve ever written a blog. (When I check the clock after finishing, it’s 10:45 p.m. — I’m making record time over here.) Why, you may ask? Well, reader, I made what probably will be my most important music discovery of this semester about 30 minutes ago. I was looking around the website for local alternative radio station 96.5 The Buzz when I saw something about a band it had started playing a few days ago called Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear. Intrigued by the band’s name, I looked for some of their music on YouTube. Now, half an hour later, I’m still here listening to their material.

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear are from Kansas City, which gives them some points on my musical scorecard right off the bat. The eponymous Madisen Ward started making music with his mama bear, Ruth Ward, about five years ago. Ruth had previously released an album, and been playing music since the ‘70s. From a young age, Madisen began performing with Ruth, but it took a while for both him and his mom to set aside their separate musical ventures and formally unite. The duo released an EP in 2012, “We Burned the Cane Field.”

When I first heard what is presumably their debut single, “Silent Movies” (included on “We Burned the Cane Field”), I didn’t know what to expect for a few seconds. This was music that The Buzz was playing, but it was entirely acoustic, with a slight country vibe to it. Then, I heard one note of Madisen’s amazing voice, and I died.

Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear’s style roughly mimics what I just described — sparse, acoustic backing courtesy of both Madisen and Ruth meshed with perfect vocals from Madisen. The instrumental portions of their music sound like they could belong to bands like The Lumineers, The Avett Brothers or The Civil Wars (even though they broke up last year). However, Madisen’s voice sets the duo apart from other alternative folk acts, as his soulful and powerful style holds together their music.

The aforementioned “Silent Movies” is a great start for the band — it starts out fairly upbeat and stays that way the whole time, with Madisen singing about a desire to “make more money.” Madison Ward and the Mama Bear additionally have two non-“We Burned the Cane Fields” songs on YouTube. The first, “Live By the Water,” is slower than “Silent Movies,” featuring more of Ruth’s also amazing vocals and a gospel influence. “Dead Daffodils,” as the title suggests, is more forlorn, and Madisen’s haunting vocals are the track’s clear centerpiece.

I absolutely cannot wait to hear more of Madisen Ward and the Mama Bear. After playing on “Late Show with David Letterman” on Thursday night and having “Silent Movies” picked up by The Buzz, they have nowhere to go but up. The duo expects to release a full-length in the spring, and until that day, I’ll be living off whatever snippets of their amazing music I can find on the Internet. I’d love it if you joined me.

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